Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Idly surfing the Net recently and checking out some
of the many new palm web-sites I began to ponder on just how much
the palm scene has changed during the relatively short period of
my interest, say 20 years. I date the beginning of my fascination
with palms from a note on the fly-leaf of the first book I ever
bought on the subject, Supplement to Palms of the World
by A. C. Langlois. It says simply Stobart (the name of the
Hopelessly outdated now, of course, I well remember
taking it home, making myself a really strong cup of tea, and delving
into this strange new world. What wonders there were to be found
between its covers! Clinosperma, Eremospatha, Liberbaileya, Dolichokentia
and many other names totally new to me provided such a rich dish,
I hardly knew where to begin. I only knew how hungry I was.
And such pictures! Moody and grainy black and white shots, many
quite poor, many apparently quite old, but even more mysterious
because of it. Dark pictures of natives bearing huge palmy leaves
or entire infructescenses (whatever they were), bearing
them aloft in a jungle clearing, like big game trophies. There was
even a curious picture of a man dressed all in white and wearing
a straw boater, surrounded by palm trees. Is that what palm collectors
looked like, I wondered? The author wrote with such a passion, I
literally read the book from cover to cover, something Ive
never done with any palm book since.
My next purchase was Palms of the World, the gaps in
which The Supplement attempted to fill. Published even
earlier, in 1960, it too contained these thrilling photographs from
years gone by that enabled, indeed encouraged me, to first put my
foot on the palm trail that was to lead to so many weird and wonderful
destinations, and bring such fun, such pleasure and such satisfaction.
I had to wait another three years for the first modern
palm book to be published. Ah! Here was a real palm book, with colour
photographs that brought palms out of the gloomy shadows and into
the bright sunlight, as though it had jumped a hundred years. Palms
by Alec Blombery and Tony Rodd was its name, purchased in 1983.
Subsequently re-published as Palms of the World (not
very original it must be said), I still refer to it, and laugh at
the comments I made in it in pencil, as I groped my way towards
a better understanding of these plants that would come to mean so
much to me. Other books followed: Palms in Australia, Palms of Malaya,
Palms in Colour, Palms & Cycads, the indispensable Genera Palmarum,
all grist to my ever-hungry mill.
As I bought these books I devoured them one by one.
But then the trickle of new publications became a flood, and suddenly,
within the space of just a few years, the number of available titles
went from 5 to 10, then to 20 and 30. I joined the International
Palm Society and received their quarterly journal, Principes, more
to read. Now there are so many chapters, all with their own magazines,
so many new books (Principes lists over 50 titles) its quite
impossible to keep up. Even some palm catalogues take a week-end
to get through.
Then there is THE NET! Doing a search for Palms
gets you thousands and thousands of 'hits' (references to check).
Hardy palms gets you almost the same number. You could
spend a lifetime looking them all up, and never reach the end. It's
like an enormous library devoted simply to palms. But there is a
down side too. With all this information available, where does a
new enthusiast begin? It was easy for me: for a good number of years,
I was able to keep up with the flow of titles. My appetite was so
huge, that the amount of information available was never quite enough
to satisfy me. I was able to 'Stay Hungry' as Arnold Schwarzenegger
once famously advised.
It's different these days, and it's all too easy to
get swamped by the flood of knowledge. I'm glad I started in the
'early days', when palms were 'new' and so was my interest. My advice?
Take it easy, a step at a time, you can't do everything at once,
and you simply can't collect every palm. I know; I tried. And just
remember, it could be worse. You could be into Fuschias! MG.
02-02-23 - 12:12GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
|| New: Issue 48
| Date: 24-05-2004
has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
| All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive:
More than 350 articles are on-line!
|| Issues 13 to 16
| Date: 28-08-2002
| Chamaerops mags 13,
have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
|| 42 as free pdf-file
| Date: 05-08-2002
Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to
|| Issues 17 to 20
| Date: 23-07-2002
| Chamaerops mags 17,
have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
|| Book List
| Date: 28-05-2001
a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
|| New Book
| Date: 25-01-2001
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...